The Impact of Moral Intensity and Inconsistent Ethical Tone on Policy Compliance
Posted: 19 Apr 2016 Last revised: 3 Aug 2017
Date Written: June 15, 2017
This study examines the impact of moral intensity and inconsistent ethical tone on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy compliance. Organizations use BYOD policies to address the heightened risks of data and privacy breaches that arise when employees use their personal devices to access or store company data. These policies are a key part of an organization’s system of internal controls that protect organizational assets by prescribing appropriate behavior for individuals who have access to them. We conducted an online experiment to evaluate: (1) how the moral intensity of a policy compliance decision influences policy compliance behavior, (2) the efficacy of an intervention designed to increase moral intensity and thus foster compliance, and (3) how an inconsistent ethical tone affects both the perceived ethicality of a policy compliance decision and individuals’ intentions to comply with the policy. We find that moral intensity is positively related to policy compliance, and that a simple intervention effectively fosters policy compliance through its impact on moral intensity. Furthermore, we provide evidence that an inconsistent ethical tone erodes policy compliance intentions, and can spill over to affect another work-related behavior. These findings have important theoretical and practical implications.
Keywords: Bring Your Own Device, BYOD, policy compliance intentions, ethical decisions, moral intensity, ethical tone consistency, inconsistent ethical tone, tone at the top, tone at the bottom
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